A small Overclocking FAQ
Why overclock ?
To get more performance than you paid for.
Is it risky ?
Yes, of course. You might damage your CPU permanently. If you do more things wrong, your mainboard may be damaged, too - as well as all other components in your PC.
In the worst case, your PC will set the room on fire ;-)
Will I surely damage my PC ?
No, otherwise noone would overclock.
Most problems that may be created by Overclocking are non-permanent stability problems. Revert to non-overclocked and they're gone.
Should I overclock ?
No. If you really want to do it, you are responsible for your actions. Only do overclock if you know that you are knowledgeable enough and want to take the risk.
I damaged my CPU / mainboard / other component by Overclocking I know the warranty is void, should I try to get it replaced by my dealer / the manufacturer anyway ?
No. You knew the risk. Chances are your dealer or manufacturer can't tell whether manufacturing defects or Overclocking caused the damage. If too many people return defective components the manufacturer will surely try to lower the return rate - by not allowing Overclocking any more. AMD seems to be at this point right now. Don't spoil it for all of us ! You made a mistake, now live with it. Durons are very inexpensive, so just buy another one !
What type of CPU should I use for Overclocking ?
Use an inexpensive one. Otherwise the effect of Overclocking (high performance at low cost) would be negated. So get a medium clocked DURON and try to overclock it to its limits.
How much can I overclock my CPU ?
There is no clear answer to that (it depends on the individual CPU)
- but I can give you a few general hints: Durons generally allow
higher increases than Athlons. Copper (blue die) Athlons generally
allow higher increases than aluminum (green die) ones. Expect to
get about 200 more MHz out of an Duron. So, almost every Duron 700Mhz
should run at 900Mhz. But - there's a "magic" border at
around 1000Mhz (1Ghz). Seldom does any Duron 750Mhz or slower get
as far as 1Ghz or even beyond. The Duron 800Mhz and more should
be able hit the 1Ghz more probably, though. I can't comment on the
Athlons. 1350 MHz was the highest I ever saw reported as an overclocked
speed. I don't know what Athlon this originally was.
Any other things I need to know ?
- Be prepared to hit trouble / problems.
- Get good cooling.
- Get a BIOS newer than 1003 if you want to cross 1Ghz. There are reports that 1Ghz and above is not possible with 1003 and below.
- Good luck.
Praying to a deity of your choice might increase your luck, but then it might not. This depends on whether the particular deity hears you and / or is Overclocking friendly ;-)
Overclocking the A7V
On the A7V the CPU Multiplier can be changed via the dip-switch block "DSFID 1-4". The Core Voltage can be adjusted via the jumpers "VID1 to VID4". See Pages 23 and 24 of your A7V Manual for the settings.
For quite some time now AMD locks all CPUs to the frequency they are meant to be run at. However, up to now all CPUs could be unlocked. There are rumors, though, that AMD considers to lock their CPUs in another way in the future. The same rumors tell that AMD is already producing and selling small amounts of these totally locked CPUs together with the many unlockable ones. So if you can't get your Athlon or Duron to overclock, maybe you already have such a test CPU.
To unlock a CPU, you must close some bridges on the surface of the ceramic plate the CPU die is placed on.
This is the location of the interesting bridges
If the "L1"
bridges are disconnected as in the picture (e.g. are not a line, but two separate dots) , you need to reconnect them.
These 4 bridges are the ones you need to reconnect.
For testing purposes you may reconnect them using an ordinary pencil. The graphite in the pencil line is conductive and electrically connects the dots. Use a thin, medium hardness pencil and carefully connect the dots.
This is how the pencil connection looks like
Make sure that the pencil lines do not touch each other. If you need to redo the work, clean the old lines using an rubber eraser.
The final connection should be done using something more lasting. Rear window defroster repair kits are an option. Conductive paint, like the one used to correct errors in printed circuit boards works, too. Just make sure the individual lines do not touch each other !
Do not try to solder the dots together!
Now that your CPU is unlocked, put it back in, reinstall the cooler and go on to getting the A7V ready.
First of all, get the A7V into jumper mode. See page 18 on how to set the jumper "JEN" from 2-3 to 1-2.
Next, set the regular multiplier settings for your CPU. Refer to the table on page 23 for this.
Note: The pictures seem to be quite confusing. See this corrected
Table for a less confusing picture of the DIP switches.
Now power up the PC. If everything was done right, it should behave just as if jumper mode was set. If not, check and redo the connections.
Overclocking now cooks down to determining the highest absolute stable multiplier possible. This is how I do it:
- Disconnect power from the PC.
- Rise the Multiplier by one step of x0.5
- Reconnect power, boot, see if windows loads correctly
Do so until errors occur, then set to the last working multiplier.
Then stress test this highest possible setting. Run every application
you have for some time. Use a very CPU intensive application
(MPEG4 encoding for example) to determine if the system runs stably
for some hours. If it doesn't, lower the multiplier and test again
until it's stable.
If you still want to go higher, manually rise the voltage. To get
an idea of how far you can get, rise it to the maximum of 1.852
/ 1.85 (Duron/Athlon) and see how far you get. Now stress test the
highest possible multiplier setting. If it does not work, use the
next lower until you get the PC absolutely stable at the max. voltage.
Next, try lowering the voltage in steps to see haw far you can
go down, testing each step as described above.
Now you have the highest possible multiplier at the lowest possible voltage. Make the changes more permanent using conductive paint like described above. I have not yet done this, but doing so is highly recommended. After some time (days, weeks or months) the conductiveness of the pencil lines may have deteriorated so far that it does not work any more.
How to Troubleshoot Overclocking:
If some multipliers work, others don't - redo the connection. One or more pencil lines may not be connected correctly or may be cross-connected (e.g. overlapping, touching each other)
If you can't get the system stable - stick to the original voltage and multiplier ;-)
Don't bother to ask your dealer or some other official support (ASUS, AMD etc.) for help on an overclocked system. They have got enough to do with non-overclocked systems. Anyway, your warranty is already void ...